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Economic hit from coronavirus will be limited, NDRC head says

By Ouyang Shijia | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2020-05-22 14:26
He Lifeng, head of the National Development and Reform Commission is interviewed via video link after the opening of the third session of the 13th National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, May 22, 2020. [Photo by Feng Yongbin/chinadaily.com.cn]

China has the ability to cope with the various risks and challenges amid the COVID-19 outbreak, and the Chinese economy is poised for steady, healthy and sustainable development, according to the country's top economic regulator.

"While the coronavirus outbreak dealt a huge blow to economic activity, it will only result in temporary limited economic effects," He Lifeng, head of the National Development and Reform Commission, said on the sidelines of the ongoing two sessions on Friday. "The fundamentals of China's sound economic growth will remain unchanged, and we have the capabilities, confidence and determination to continuously promote the steady, healthy and sustainable economic development."

He admitted that the coronavirus outbreak severely impacted the world's second-largest economy, as China reported its first quarter GDP contracted by 6.8 percent from a year ago. Specifically, small- and medium-sized enterprises and some industries such as catering, accommodation and movies were hit badly by the coronavirus.

To hedge against the coronavirus effect, the government has rolled out a slate of policies to help companies resume work and production in an orderly manner.

With the help of government measures to reboot the economy, the country's total added value of industrial enterprises above a designated size surged 3.9 percent on a yearly basis in April, compared with the 1.1 percent decrease in March. And the country's yuan-dominated export in April rose 8.2 percent from the same period a year ago.

He Lifeng said the considerable progress proved Chinese economy enjoys strong resilience, and it is relatively strong in its ability to withstand the pressure and pain amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Responding to China not setting a GDP target, He said many indicators are not comparable to the previous year and it's difficult to predict due to the coronavirus impact.

"In fact, the quantitative economic indicators tasks have been broken into related indicators in fiscal, monetary and other related policies," He added. "As China's economy is deeply integrated into the global economy, it is hard to predict the future development due the great uncertainty regarding to the globally spreading coronavirus epidemic."

"Under current circumstances, not setting a specific growth target allow us more focused on key tasks such as expanding domestic demand, ensuring six priorities and stability in six areas for steady economic fundamentals as well as achieve the goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects."

According to He, China is capable of meeting most targets and exceed some targets to create a comprehensive well-off society by the end of this year.

When it comes to the country's investment plans, He said investment is of great importance to promote economic and social development of China, the current largest developing country in the globe.

He said the government will speed up the new infrastructure construction such as 5G networks, and it will also focus on addressing weak links in fields such as public health, medical emergency supplies and new urbanization.

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